Stein’s Predictions: Davis, Leonard, Durant, Cousins

Anthony Davis will turn down a “supermax” extension from the Pelicans, setting up a frenzied competition between the Lakers and Celtics to pull off a trade, predicts Marc Stein of the New York Times in his latest newsletter. It’s one of several prognostications the veteran basketball writer offers up in a New Year’s Day column, but it’s the most explosive and one that will dominate NBA headlines throughout the summer if it comes true.

Davis could short-circuit the story by accepting the offer from New Orleans, which would pay him close to $240MM. But Stein expects Davis to value a shot at winning over money and look to join a loaded lineup in either Los Angeles or Boston. Stein also predicts the Lakers will be aggressive in trying to talk the Pelicans into a deal before the February 7 deadline while there’s not another strong suitor in sight. The Celtics can’t trade for Davis until Kyrie Irving opts out of his current deal because of an NBA rule prohibiting a team from acquiring two players currently on designated rookie extensions through trade.

Stein offers a few more significant personnel-related predictions:

  • Despite Kawhi Leonard‘s success in Toronto, Stein expects him to sign with the Clippers in July. He adds that the Raptors will likely need to win a title to keep their new star from heading home to Southern California in free agency and predicts Toronto will start rebuilding if Leonard leaves, including a trade of Kyle Lowry.
  • Kevin Durant may spend one more season with the Warriors before looking to move on in free agency. Stein admits there’s a lot of chatter about Durant joining the Knicks, but he believes the allure of playing in the new Chase Center will keep him him around for another year.
  • A “wise insider” tells Stein that DeMarcus Cousins will consider returning to the Warriors for another season, although they can only offer a modest raise on his $5.3MM salary. Stein expects other prominent free agents, such as Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson, to stay where they are.
  • Carmelo Anthony, currently in limbo on the Rockets‘ roster while looking for his next NBA opportunity, may have played his last game. It has been nearly two months since Anthony was last on the court and it doesn’t appear anyone is willing to take a chance on him, even at a minimum salary.
  • Kevin Love trade talks will heat up soon, and Stein believes the Nuggets should get involved as they try to hold onto the top spot in the West. Love is projected to return from toe surgery this month and will become eligible to be dealt on January 24, a little more than two weeks before the deadline.
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38 thoughts on “Stein’s Predictions: Davis, Leonard, Durant, Cousins

    • Thronson5

      I actually agree. Not a Rockets fan but o think he cooks really help the Rockets and I think he would fit nicely with that team, he doesn’t need to score a lot and they have guys like Harden, CP3 and Gordon who are scorers, he brings more to any team with rebounding, he has an outside shot as well. If they added him I actually think it put them in good position to possibly make it to the finals. But I also think he’d fit good with Nuggets as well interested in seeing how his situation plays out and if he stays with the Cavs all season. I think if he doesn’t get traded this season he will by next season but something tells me by the deadline he will be traded.

        • I think Love’s injury history and his $30mm starting next season, along with wanting young players and assets in a trade that will blow the Cavs minds will make him really difficult to trade.

  1. imindless

    Stein might just be accurate. I can see kawhi going to clips to pair with dude that got from pistons. Ad def going to lakers especially with the window they have over the celtics.

    • 123Redsox

      Window they have over the celtics? The celtics have more talent and their superstar is 26, not 34. Celtics window of contention is longer and better.

      Smart/Brown> Hart
      Tatum> Ingram
      Morris mcgee, chandler
      Hayward<Kuzma right now but that script could change fast when Hayward fully recovers and is back.

        • In Boston, the fans consider Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens, his teammates and all the fans consider Kyrie a superstar. Plus Kyrie is close friends with Anthony ?!?!?

          • Everyone in Boston considers Kyrie a superstar. They won’t trade Kyrie for Anthony because they want them to play together. They truly would have a
            near Shaq and Kobe level tandem ?!?!?

    • stug14

      Window over the Celtics? Care to elaborate? Seems like the Celts have more overall talent and more picks. And they’re the better team now.

    • jehendri

      I think he meant the time window before kyrie opts out and they can trade for AD. Not championship window. At least that’s how I read it.

    • C-Daddy

      Everyone misinterpreted this comment. He was referring to the window the Lakers have in trading for Davis (the Celtics would have to include Kyrie in a trade before next offseason).

      • Decius

        Trade negotiations always drag out. They will go past the Lakers window over the Celtics. The Pelicans would be dumb not to bring another suitor (especially one with assets the Celts have) into the chase. Somehow, I think he ends up on the Celtics. Big men never play well with LeBron and Davis would be crazy to not consider this. I’m not a Celtic or Laker fan. Long-suffering Knicks fan here.

  2. aceani

    The Nuggets cannot afford Kevin Love’s contract and would NEVER trade all the young talent just peaking for an old Kevin Love. With Millsap back why would they need him?

    • hiflew

      I don’t even see how adding Love is really feasible for the Nuggets. They don’t really have the type of large contracts in order to add on young talent to make a trade. Unless they are going for a quantity trade, I don’t see Denver as a good match for the Cavs.

    • JamesW26

      I agree, and don’t really want Love in Denver for a number of reasons (big contract, injury issues, team chemistry, among others), but if it were to happen, I think the play would be more long-term.

      Millsap has a bloated team option year remaining on his contract that they could get out of, and if they believe that Love is enough of a step up from Millsap/Lyles and would allow them to move on from one or both, it’s a possibility.

      It seems like the front office has been reported to be interested in Love often over the past few years.

      • aceani

        I think the Nuggets will opt out of Millsap’s contract and try to resign him for less money.

  3. Stein is hardly going out a limb by saying what he expects to happen, and doesn’t indicate he has any real new information. I think he’s being directed in what to say, but we’ll see.

    If Pels deal AD, they will set back the power the small market teams have had in all CBA negotiations since 2011. They requested and were granted systems that are horrible salary allocators with one silver lining (supposedly), allowing small market teams to keep their true superstars unless they decide to take less $ and more risk. It hasn’t, and they haven’t even tried. So a bad system for no reason.

    • LordBanana

      This is the Pels 7th year with Davis, they’ve had plenty of time to try to put together a contender. It has nothing to do with being a small market

      • Not my point. On yours, AD signed a contract through summer of 2020, so it doesn’t really matter whether you’ve think they’ve had enough time – AD gave them more.

    • x%sure

      Agree about Stein, but not with him. He is probably using his own standards, not Leonards, which are hard to gauge. It’s just something to talk about.
      If he’s not unhappy, the default is to stay.

      System failure solution?– doubling down on it. These are millionaires deciding, who got there by being too big to allow to fail.

  4. Thronson5

    Really can’t wait to see what happens with Kyrie and the Cavs. People say there’s no way he will leave but I wouldn’t put it past him. Also really interesting that the Cavs can’t trade for AD until the Kyrie situation plays out which kind of gives the Lakers the upper hand and should make them tray to push for a trade before the Celtics can even try to trade for him because of the Kyrie thing.

    I think KD might actually stay one more year with GS also, I do think he will leave in the next two seasons but I feel like he really would want to play at least one season in that new arena. Would be cool to see him go to the Knicks, I’d love to see them back to being competitive, the NBA is better when the Lakers, Knicks, Bulls and Celtics are doing good and relevant in my opinion.

    • mafiaso316

      Hope you mean Celtics and not the Cavs as it’s been almost 2 years since Kyrie played for the Cavs.

    • totoiv

      I think KD will stay one more season but some prognosticators think he will move on. With the Warriors moving into their new arena that would mean they would be in the chase for one of the other super stars on the market to replace KD. Yes, I guess they could use that funding for Thompson. But that would still leave them a $17.5-20 million spot open to add another top tier player.

      • Durant wants the most money he can get this summer he says. Some consider that as a hint that he will resign with the Warriors.

      • A healthy DMC would be the best addition for GSW, IMO a better one than resigning KD, as with his arrival Dray’s & Klay’s game has been very much affected. That wouldn’t happen with DMC & also he would sign for 6+MM so it would fix all their salary cap issues as well.

  5. Guest617

    durant or davis to the celtics, klove’s untradable contract to the lakers, kawhi remains in toronto, and melo to china. stein’s not plugged in or considered a reliable resource = click bait fake news

  6. x%sure

    Milsap has started working out for Denver as intended, so Love does not make sense for them. The article is behind a paywall so I can only criticize so much, but I wonder if Stein looks things up. I guess he’s good for throwing stuff out there.

    • x%sure

      I must retract criticism of Stein since there is a motivation for a Love-to-Denver trade to be discussed. Not likely to happen, because Love will stay unless he doesn’t want to, but…

      IF Denver thinks Love is a better partner to Jokic than Millsap is, AND Cleveland wants to back out of its win-now Love-and-Sexton plan (there’s a joke to made with that plan name), than a Love-for-Millsap trade makes sense before Feb.15.

      The money works out, and Cleveland can send more salary if need be to get extra draft pick(s). Gilbert wanted to keep the title momentum going but that did not work out, so getting picks and out of the big contract with an expiring would normally make sense. But, it would be hard to get a replacement attraction to Cleveland.

      And as solid as Millsap is, Love would probably do better and allow Jokic out of the paint more. If he’s healthy.

  7. Z-A

    So Kyrie has to opt out as soon as the season is over for them to even trade for AD using 2019 Hoard of picks correct?

    • Luke Adams

      The exact timing of Kyrie’s opt-out decision doesn’t really matter — if he opts out, he’ll officially become a free agent on July 1, no matter how much earlier he announces his decision.

      Obviously, that’s after the draft, but if there’s a scenario where the Celtics want to trade a bunch of their 2019 picks to the Pelicans, they could always just select the players New Orleans wants, then officially finalize the trade in July. That’s not uncommon.

  8. Jason Lancaster

    Unless Milsap gets hurt again, I can’t see Denver using his expiring contract (next year is a team option) + a young player + a pick to get Love.

    Not to mention, that package is decent enough to get involved in a lot of deals. I’m not convinced Love is going to be the best player available this February, excluding AD.

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